B’nai B’rith International wrote a letter to The Heinz Endowments to express dismay and deep concern about a grant the Endowments made to a restaurant in Pittsburgh bundling anti-Israel propaganda with food from “Palestine,” which the restaurant describes as being “in conflict” with the United States.
The Heinz Endowments gave the restaurant—named Conflict Kitchen—a $50,000 grant. B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs and Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin wrote to the Endowments noting that Conflict Kitchen was a deeply unsettling choice for a grant when one considers the work of Conflict Kitchen is antithetical to the stated mission of The Heinz Endowments.
In a letter responding to B’nai B’rith’s concerns, The Heinz Endowments President Grant Oliphant wrote: “I want to be especially clear that its current program on Palestine was not funded by the endowments and we would not fund such a program, precisely because it appears to be terribly at odds with the mission of promoting understanding.”
Oliphant also wrote that “[the Endowments] emphatically does not agree with or support either the anti-Israel sentiments quoted on Conflict Kitchen’s food wrappers or the program’s refusal to incorporate Israeli or Jewish voices in its material.”
The letter also notes that “Conflict Kitchen has received no additional funding from the Endowments since the one grant last year and is not expected to.”
We commend the Endowments for its quick response and for clearly stating that a divisive group such as Conflict Kitchen is not the sort of grantee that works to promote understanding and tolerance.
The effort to demonize and delegitimize Israel takes many forms. Conflict Kitchen has brought it to the lunch counter and B’nai B’rith hopes that The Heinz Endowments board will be far more vigilant in vetting future applicants. A public disavowal by the Endowments of this particular grant recipient could be an instructive and powerful tool.